Honoring Pearl Harbor in Fredericksburg, Texas

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Seventy-five years ago, at 7:55 a.m., the United States was thrown into World War II with a vengeance. Chaos reigned as bombs fell from the sky obliterating the Naval Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor. Tom Gillette will never forget that day. The then ten-year-old son of a Navy Captain lived on Oahu. He was playing with a neighbor child as the attack commenced. As the roar of planes shattered the still morning air, Tom and his buddy ran outside. They watched 20 torpedo planes flying low and in single file above Gillette’s home. The planes were part of the 300 the Japanese sent that day to bomb the island’s extensive military facilities. Originally the attack was scheduled to take place after Japan issued an official declaration of war on the United States. A delay in the delivery of the message turned the attack into an ambush. The message arrived in the middle of the attack.

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center).

Photo: By Unknown – Official U.S. Navy photograph NH 50930., Public Domain

More than 350 Japanese planes swooped down beginning at 7:55 a.m., destroying or damaging 19 U.S. ships, eight of them battleships in just over an hour, according to the National World War II Museum. The sneak attack also destroyed 169 Navy and Air Force planes and damaged another 159.

Sixty-eight civilians died in the attack, and 1,178 military personnel were injured. Half of those who died were aboard the U.S.S. Arizona, which remains sunken in the harbor.

Join Tom Gillette today at the Pacific War Museum to hear his story first hand. The memorial celebration begins at 12:25 p.m.  and is free to the public.  According to marketing director, Brandon Vinyard, it’s best to arrive early. The event always ends up being standing room only.

Photo: By IJN – U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.159. Public Domain

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